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Going Global: Group volunteer Elizabeth Rowley

As our Gloucestershire Type 1 community group lead volunteer, Elizabeth helps local people get the help and support they need. She's also helping those further afield. Here's her story about her recent trip to Uganda.




Elizabeth, left, from T1International, chats with Sonia Nabeta Foundation Warriors. 


"Having lived with Type 1 diabetes for 25 years now, I know what a burden it can be, but I actually spend most days filled with gratitude that I can access and afford the insulin, test strips and other supplies and healthcare that I need to survive. I also continually feel grateful that I can connect with others living with Type 1 diabetes locally for support.

I founded the charityT1Internationalin 2013 to fight for everyone worldwide to have the same access to healthcare and support that I have here in the UK. With T1International I recently attended Camp Waromo, a four-day diabetes camp in Uganda hosted by theSonia Nabeta Foundation(SNF) to provide advocacy training in support of sustainable solutions for people with Type 1 diabetes there.

In Uganda, access to the diabetes basics like insulin, syringes and test strips can be a challenge. There is some support provided through donated items, but nothing is ever available on a lasting basis and the donations could stop at any moment. This is stressful and unfair to the patients. Most people with Type 1 in Uganda are on mixed insulin and high-carbohydrate diets, and blood sugars run high because correction doses are not available or understood.

These challenges, and so many others, make life with Type 1 diabetes a much larger burden in Uganda. In order to have sustainable access to insulin and supplies, T1International, in partnership with SNF, is supporting young people with Type 1 diabetes in Uganda to speak up for themselves and to carry out a plan to ensure the government meets the rights of people with diabetes. This is advocacy in action.

I facilitated two advocacy sessions at the camp, and together we created a plan of action. The goal: get the government to provide syringes to people with Type 1 diabetes by the end of this year, because the donated provision of them will end by the start of 2018. We developed a key message to get across when speaking to people in power, and the advocates have plans to collect data to back up their demands and seek out media exposure for their campaign.

By working together, the advocates can now confidently speak up for their rights and secure the essentials for theirs and future generations."

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